West Hartford Business Buzz: January 31, 2022 – We-Ha

A Roundup of openings and closings for West Hartford businesses.

Ronni Newton

I hope everyone survived the weekend storm, and that the snow-lovers weren’t too disappointed with the final accumulation in West Hartford. It was hard to measure with all of the drifting, but I think we got about 6 inches – nothing compared to the 20-plus inches in the southeastern part of the state and the Boston and Cape Cod area.

Millie loves playing in the snow, and with all that fur she didn’t care how cold and windy it was on Saturday.

Millie enjoyed the white snow in our backyard. Photo credit to Ronni Newton

I’m not sad about today being the last day of January, and while February always seems way longer than 28 days, I’m personally glad to be entering the last full month of winter.

We are fortunate to live just a quarter of mile from Rockledge Golf Course. Ted enticed me to go up there on Sunday afternoon for some cross-country skiing. The golf course is gorgeous all year. It was a great way for me to get exercise, and I was eventually warm.

Ted Cross-country skis at Rockledge Photo credit to Ronni Newton

Perhaps the cold weather and gray skies are making people feel sick, but I feel that the negative comments on social media have become more frequent. I wrote a story about a couple who recently moved from Los Angeles to West Hartford. I shared it on Facebook the next morning. He is a film producer and she owns a public relations business, and the point of the story was that when the pandemic hit and they realized they didn’t need to be in Hollywood to do their jobs, they essentially picked West Hartford as their new hometown after first noticing the town’s many accolades that appear when you Google best places to live, to raise a family, best schools, etc. And after moving here, virtually everything about West Hartford has been exceeding their expectations – although if I were them I would maybe question that a bit after reading some of the Facebook comments.

I know people often comment without reading all (or any) of a story, but I do hope you will not just read the headline and assume you understand the entire story – which brings me to my next point.

There have been some very negative comments made on Facebook about stories about new construction in the area. Although not everyone will be supporting the projects, please consider the larger picture and the reasons for the decisions. These developers are also part of the community, and many of them are residents. Their business is real estate development. They’re not some international conglomerates planning to swallow up West Hartford’s existing buildings and with it the town’s charm and history. Development, and redevelopment, are the only ways for the town to continue to thrive as a community, and the economic reality is that if there wasn’t demand for multifamily housing, developers wouldn’t even be considering it – and certainly wouldn’t be able to get the financing. If West Hartford is a place people want to live, and there is a demand for it, then there will be more rental homes available. According to an analysis by CoStar, published just two weeks ago, the multifamily vacancy rate in West Hartford is just 3%, the lowest it’s been in at least a dozen years. Kristen Gorski (Economic Development Coordinator) says that a market with a vacancy ratio of 5% or less is a strong one.

As of today, our server is being upgraded. If you’ve occasionally gotten error messages, particularly on high-traffic days, this should take care of it. Due to the impending updates, a few stories that would have been included in today’s newsletter have been slightly delayed and we thank you for your patience.

On to some much lighter subjects … we saw “Five Guys Named Moe”Playhouse on Park is an excellent venue and I highly recommend it! Great singing, great dancing, lots of interaction with the audience. (Details can be found here.

We made homemade turkey chili this week, as a nod to the cold and snowy weather.

Turkey chili was a great meal for snow days. Photo credit to Ronni Newton

But we did grab some great pizza and Caesar salad at Zephyr’s Sunday night – a craving I developed after interviewing owner Dante Cistulli (see bullet point below) earlier in the day!

Yard bird pizza from Zephyr’s includes braised chicken thigh, fontina, Calabrian breadcrumbs, honey siracha pickle relish. Photo credit to Ronni Newton

Casear salad from Zephyr’s Street Pizza. Photo credit to Ronni Newton

A universal indoor mask mandate remains in place in West Hartford. Click here for more information. Please comply, and please don’t give our business owners and their staff a hard time about it. Really. Please continue to look out for each other, support our local businesses – and stay safe and healthy.

Send Ronni Newton an email at [email protected] if you have any information about local businesses.

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Here’s this week’s Buzz:

Hot Table offers chicken pesto panini with salami, pestomayo cheese, roasted chicken, and roasted onions. To the right is tomato bisque, which was the soup choice of the day. Photo credit to Ronni Newton

  • Hot TableWednesday, February 8, 2009 Corbin Collection, which brings a new (and delicious) fast casual option for West Hartford’s dining scene. “We are happy to be part of the West Hartford community,”Scott Nehmer is one of four partners in the family-owned business. It was founded in Springfield by brothers John and Chris DeVoie and Don Watroba in 2007. West Hartford is the company’s ninth location and third in Connecticut (others are in Glastonbury and Enfield, and the rest are in Massachusetts), and there are plans to open two more this year in Massachusetts. “Inspired by small eateries in Italy called Tavola Calda, literally ‘Hot Table’ in English, their vision for Hot Table was simple, delicious pressed sandwiches, made to order, and served in a way that makes customers feel cared for and valued, by employees that feel cared for and valued,” the company’s website states. “We’ve been eyeing West Hartford for a long time,”Nehmer said. They had a previous lease elsewhere in town, he said, which didn’t work out, but are very happy with the Corbin’s Corner location. “We just love this area, good traffic and visibility,”He said. It is not a threat, but a draw that the building is near other fast-casual restaurants like Shake Shack and Pokeworks. Paninis can be made fresh daily. Prices are determined by the size and toppings you choose (small is $8.29; medium is $10.49; large is $12.69). I chose the medium size, which was quite a large portion. Whole wheat wraps are also available. There are also soups, salads (see the apple walnut photo below), and a children’s menu. Nehmer stated that most of the food prep, including the bread baking, is done in house. All meat and vegetable are sliced fresh every day. Hot Table is open Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m.-9:00 p.m. and closes Sunday. “On Sunday we rest,”A sign will be posted on the door. “Since day one, in 2007, it’s been part of our culture,” Nehmer said, allowing staff to spend time with friends and family, which is rare in the industry.” A grand opening and ribbon cutting will follow in the near future. “On that day we will be donating all sales for the day to Connecticut Foodshare to help those with food insecurity,” John DeVoie said. Hot Table offers more information, including a menu, visit their website. Website. You will find more photos at the end.
  • Apple walnut salad is made with mixed greens, carrots red cabbage, apples, blue cheddar, glazed walnuts and cranberries. It is served with honey lemon vinaigrette. Photo credit to Ronni Newton

    Hot Table: Panini preparation underway Photo credit to Ronni Newton

  • I ran into Sonny ChenLast week, he confirmed that plans are being made to relocate. Black Bamboo – which has been one of West Hartford’s most successful and beloved casual food businesses since opening 11 years ago – about five blocks down the street to the site of the former Anna’s Hair Perfection. In the fall, Chen purchased the building at 766 Farmington Ave. and plans to make it his own. It’s slightly larger than the current location, with more on-site parking, and will also allow Chen to make a long-term commitment to the business.
  • Sonny Chen, owner of Black Bamboo, has purchased the former Anna’s Hair Perfection building at the corner of Farmington Avenue and Vanderbilt Road. Photo credit to Ronni Newton (weha.com file photograph)

  • In this competitive environment, restaurateurs are looking for innovative ways to attract diners. Zephyr’s Street PizzaOwner Dante CistulliPop-up collaborations will be made with some of the most acclaimed local chefs. “They’ll doing a couple of courses, and I’ll do a pizza”He said that the theme was the same. A full slate is already in place for Wednesday nights during the month of February, beginning with Millwright’s owner and renowned chef Tyler AndersonOn Wednesday, February 2, at 4 p.m., he will be serving some highlights from his TA–Que truck, accompanied by some “collab” pizzas. “I’m super excited to be working with Tyler again,” Cistulli said. They have been to many events together. The following weeks will feature the following: Adam GreenbergFood Network fame, February 9, “Chopped”Star and The Place 2 beCulinary Director Xavier SantiagoFebruary 16, 2009 Jason WelchCurrently, he is a private chef and does dinners at Sub Edge Farm on February 23rd. “We’re going to try to carry the series through March,” Cistulli said. “We had to get creative,”Cistulli stated that January and February, even without the pandemics, are difficult months for restaurants. He’s got some innovative ideas heading into April as well, with perhaps a pizza cook-off on the patio.
  • Courtesy Zephyr’s Street Pizza

  • If approved by the U.S. Senate West Hartford resident Vanessa AveryAvery would become the first Black United State attorney for the District of Connecticut. Avery’s nomination last week by President Joe Biden was applauded by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal(D-CT), and Chris Murphy (D–CT), who made comments in a news announcement. “Having held this job myself, I’m particularly proud of this nomination,” Blumenthal makes a statement. “Vanessa Avery is a proven prosecutor – tough and fair – who has deep roots in her community and a lifetime of service. A champion and fighter for Connecticut’s people with broad trial experience and solid, good judgement, she’ll follow the facts and law to deter and punish wrongdoers and fight discrimination. I’m proud to have recommended her nomination to the White House with Senator Murphy and I look forward to advocating for her confirmation in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where I anticipate strong bipartisan support.”Murphy added, “A Connecticut native, Vanessa Avery has dedicated her career to advancing fairness and equity in the judicial system, and I was proud to recommend her nomination to the Biden administration. Her vast legal experience and deep commitment to justice for all will prepare her well to serve in this new role leading the District of Connecticut as United States Attorney. I look forward to her confirmation in the Senate.” Avery has served as the Associate Attorney General for Enforcement, Litigation and Investigations at the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office since 2019. Avery has been the Associate Attorney General for Enforcement, Litigation and Investigations at the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office since 2019. Prior to that, Avery was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut. Avery is also a Trial attorney for the Department of Justice Civil Division, Washington, D.C., and a pro bono advocate to children, adults, as well as non-profit entities. She is also a past president of the George W. Crawford Black Bar Association Advisory Board. She is a native to New Haven’s Newhallville neighbourhood. She attended Yale University for her undergraduate education and then earned her law degree at Georgetown University Law Center.
  • Vanessa Avery. CT.gov headshot

  • West Hartford resident, congratulations Dawn EnnisKamora and Dawn Ennis’ interview with them on RiseUP with Dawn Ennis won the first prize in the Diversity Enhancement category at the 23rd Video Festival for Community Media. ‘Nor’Easters.” You can watch the show here: https://youtu.be/hW9rn1LVR7s.Also, congratulations West Hartford Community InteractiveFor also winning the first place award “West Hartford Votes 2020: What You Need to Know about Absentee Ballots and Voting in Person”Produced by Essie Larot, Town Clerk
  • There’s a new employee at Town Hall that I am sure I will be working with as I compile the content for this column! Andrea MasisakAs the Town of West Hartford’s Economic Development specialist, she will be working part-time with the Economic Development Division. She will be supporting West Hartford businesses through outreach and communications, as well as social media. She will also assist with recruitment and marketing. Masisak was most recently employed in the Public Outreach Division of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). She was previously employed at the Elizabeth Park Conservancy and also owned her own business. “Andrea has already hit the ground running, and will be a beneficial addition to enhance economic development efforts in town,”Kristen Gorski is Economic Development Coordinator. Gorski manages the Economic Development Division.
  • The Environmental Systems Corporation (ESC) in West Hartford, Connecticut, is proud to announce Bruce Politz’s promotion to the role of audio visual technology sales manager. Politz brings more than 30 years of experience in client relations to this role. Prior to his promotion, he was the audio visual technology sales manager, providing support and business insights as well as strategic direction. Bruce joined ESC about a year ago and I quickly realized his strong leadership qualities. He is a natural fit for this role and will support our ability to deliver cutting-edge solutions to our valued customers,”Michael Amedeo is vice president of sales Politz’s efforts specific to the audio visual group will be coordinated with corporate sales strategies. He will also collaborate with the operations team to ensure that estimates and execution are done correctly. Politz studied electronics in Waterbury, Connecticut at the Porter and Chester Institute.
  • Bruce Politz. Photo credit: Peter Billard Photographer. Courtesy image

  • ICYMI, there were some big business stories last week. The first was Tuesday’s announcement. Kingswood OxfordThe school had made final arrangements to sell the parcel it owned, but it was still occupied. The Children’s Museum, to developer Continental PropertiesThe site will be home to a luxury rental community. You can read the full story here. Click here for more information on Conny, the whale’s rescue plans.
  • The Town Council also approved the plans for redevelopment on Tuesday. 924 and 920 Farmington AvenueWith a mixed-use multifamily property. Click here to see the complete story.
  • The Russell opened last week at 39 South Main St., and the town’s new Jamaican/Caribbean restaurant is already receiving rave reviews. Here are the details.
  • Specialty retailer BoxLunchIt is now open at Westfarms, and the grand opening celebration – delayed from this past weekend due to the weather – will be on Feb. 5 and 6. Read the full story here.
  • Send Ronni Newton an email at [email protected] if you have business news to share.

    Hot Table is busy with panini preparation. Photo credit to Ronni Newton

    Hot Table Menu Photo credit to Ronni Newton

    Hot Table: Panini preparation underway Photo credit to Ronni Newton

    Hot Table: Panini preparation underway Photo credit to Ronni Newton

     

    Hot Table is now open at Corbin Collection, 1445 New Britain Ave. West Hartford. Photo credit to Ronni Newton

    Hot Table is now open at Corbin Collection, 1445 New Britain Ave. West Hartford. Photo credit to Ronni Newton

    Hot Table is now open at Corbin Collection, 1445 New Britain Ave. West Hartford. Photo credit to Ronni Newton

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